Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Maria Sharapova 6-3 6-4 in the 2011 final
The Czech will open her campaign against Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova.
The fourth seed expects world No. 1 Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka to challenge
Kvitova says winning Wimbledon is "something that money can't buy"
Petra Kvitova will use the expectation of being defending champion to help her when she begins her Wimbledon campaign.
The Czech beat current world No.1 Maria Sharapova at the All England club last year to claim her first grand slam title, and will start this year’s tournament on Centre Court against Uzbekistan’s 97th-ranked Akgul Amanmuradova.
“It’s very big pressure for sure,” the 22-year-old told CNN when asked about returning to the prestigious grass-court grand slam.
“But without pressure it’s boring. So I will try to work on my game so that when I step onto Centre Court I’m focused.”
The left-handed Kvitova is excited to return to Wimbledon, although she will be heading to the London venue earlier than planned after crashing out of the warm-up event at Eastbourne in the first round.
“It’s a very special place to me. I will be honored to return to Wimbledon as the defending champion,” added Kvitova, who was knocked out of the Australia Open and French Open by Sharapova at the semifinal stages.
“I would have liked to have played more matches, but I have more days for practice,” said the Czech. “I can improve my game and I can go there earlier than I expected. I’m looking forward to being at Wimbledon.”
The world No. 4 explained how her 6-3 6-4 victory over Sharapova was a dream come true and that Wimbledon has a distinct aura which is not present at other tournaments.
“All players want to win Wimbledon, it’s something that money can’t buy,” said Kvitova, who is seeded fourth.
“The grand slam at Wimbledon is very special to everyone, it’s on the grass, you play in the whites and it has all the history and the atmosphere.”
Despite her shock straight-sets loss to Ekaterina Makarova at Eastbourne on Monday, Kvitova feels her game is well suited to the grass.
“I’m happy with my game, I can improve for sure. I play well on the grass … although I haven’t had too many chances to play on the grass this season.”
Unlike the men’s game, which has been dominated by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, women’s tennis has seen a number of players clinch grand slam titles – the last six major tournaments have had six different winners.
Kvitova expects French Open winner Sharapova and Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, who she beat in the Wimbledon semifinals last year, to be her main challengers over the Wimbledon fortnight.
“Women’s tennis is very open right now, big players can play well on the grass. Maria has had a great season and she played so well at Roland Garros.
“Azarenka as well had a very good start to the season and plays very nice on the grass. There are a lot of players who can play very well.
“We are all fighting because we know we have a chance, it’s not just me who is the only good player who can win everything. Not at this time, but maybe in the future.”
Sharapova, Wimbledon champion in 2004, has been drawn against Russia-born Australian Anastasia Rodionova, while second seed Azarenka, who could be set for another semifinal showdown with Kvitova, will play American Irina Falconi.
Four-time champion Serena Williams is up against Czech Republic’s Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, while Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska is playing world No. 121 Magdalena Rybarikova.
Former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki will begin her quest for a maiden grand slam title with a first round match against Austria’s Tamira Paszek.
Unseeded Belgian Kim Clijsters, a winner of four grand slam titles, has been drawn against 18th seed Jelena Jankovic.
But former world No. 1 Clijsters’ participation in the event has been called into question after she pulled out of warm-up event in the Netherlands with a stomach strain.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic opens up against former top-ranked Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Switzerland’s 16-time grand slam winner Roger Federer, a six-time Wimbledon champion, could face Serbia’s Djokovic in the last four. Third seed Federer will play No. 43 Albert Ramos.
French Open champion Rafael Nadal could face fourth seed Andy Murray in the last four for the third year in a row. Second seed Nadal has drawn against Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci.
Home-crowd favorite Murray will play former world No. 4 Nikolay Davydenko in his opener, while fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will go up against Australian 2002 winner Lleyton Hewitt.